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Dear Russell,

As I sit here writing this letter in federal prison with two years and a half in on a 25-year sentence I received due to “Mandatory Minimum Drug Laws,” I still cannot believe how much time they gave me for a minor role in a drug conspiracy I had no direct knowledge of.

Nonetheless, I have not allowed my circumstances to discourage my resilient character or plans for my future. My story is inspiring or terrifying, depending on what part you highlight. Therefore, I ask that my incarceration not be held in vain but increase your motivation to fight against these harsh drug laws – not only because of personal interest due to my situation, but because of so many other young brothers’ lives you will save all across the country that have become prey for our so-called justice system.

Mandatory minimums keep us confined well after the so-called rehabilitation period. In fact, it seems like the longer someone serves in prison, the less chance he has once released. I ain’t here trying to justify our actions of crime, but for a second, imagine a 20-year-old kid released from prison at 43 years old. It is perceived to be a new beginning, but in actuality, he’s forced to secure a future that most people have already established by then. Following the thoughts and fantasies that have raced through his mind the past 20 years, a man is usually so eager to obtain these things, he resorts to the same actions that landed him in prison in the first place.

How can we call that justice? How does this help us as a society? How can a person who commits murder or rapes a child receive lesser time than an individual who is charged with a low-level drug offense? I agree with Michelle Alexander: we are living in a mass incarceration age of colorblindness, which has become the New Jim Crow. Not to sound like a revolutionist or politician because I’m far from both – I’m just a rapper who made a poor choice to get involved in selling drugs – but I’m using my voice to shed light on this harsh reality. Until my pen bang again, I wanna shout out F.A.M.M. (Families Against Mandatory Minimums). Y’all hard work doesn’t go unnoticed behind these walls.

Love, “Ya Son Jinx aka BK Cavali”

Derek Carr # 21397052

FCI Beckley

Federal Correctional Institution Beckley

P.O. Box 350

Beaver, West V.A. 25813

PHOTO CREDIT: LaShonda McQueen

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